UK debut for Xbox One

Xbox Europe studios boss Phil Harrison took to the stage at this year’s Eurogamer Expo to chair a session on the Xbox One and his own vision for the future of gaming.

With just under two months to go until the machine debuts on UK shores – November 22nd – Harrison took the opportunity to detail the console’s finer details to consumers.

SILVER LINING

A great deal of Harrison’s talk looked at the cloud and how its integration into Xbox One remains a major selling point.

There will be over 300,000 Xbox servers active on day one. Plus there’s Smart Match, the matchmaking component of Xbox Live reworked for the Xbox One (and covered in The Road To Xbox three weeks ago). The new system will see players of similar skill, language and reputation grouped together, along with those players who own the same DLC for their games.

Smart Match also does away with waiting in multiplayer lobbies, as asynchronous matchmaking allows players to watch TV or play something else while they wait for their next multiplayer bout.

Harrison confirmed all of these cloud features will be available at launch for the Xbox One and will result in “the best multiplayer service” available on a console yet.

We’ve listened to your feedback. We know you wanted games on disc as well as digital. But we remain committed to digital. Our industry is becoming more digital. We want to offer both.
Phil Harrison

The exec said that Xbox One will be “more than a ten-year journey” for Microsoft, one fuelled by the cloud. As proved so beneficial to the  Xbox 360, Harrison maintained the next-gen platform will be further improved over time through the cloud as it introduces new capabilities and features.

Harrison added: “The cloud is what will keep the console relevant, fresh and new. It will create new experiences.”

At launch, the cloud supports the Drivatar technology found in Microsoft’s Forza 5. The technology sees players driving styles replicated in the game as AI. Via Xbox Cloud, traits of other racers are imported into the game and deployed as rival players, permanently blurring the lines between single and multiplayer gaming.

Another feature Harrison demonstrated on stage was the Xbox One’s DVR capabilities.

Xbox One Upload Studio not only lets players record and share their own gameplay, but also to record and layer in commentary tracks, too.

At the Expo, the technology was demonstrated using Microsoft’s own Project Spark, with a player uploading their gameplay footage and editing in their commentary using the Kinect camera. The DVR functionality will allow users to record up to five minutes of gameplay.

Upload Studio will initially only support uploads to Xbox Live, but YouTube and Facebook support is scheduled to launch in 2014.

XBOX FITNESS

Also announced last week was Xbox Fitness, a workout app for Xbox One which provides players with a library of fitness videos, turning their console into a database of workouts and advice.

The app uses Kinect technology to read a user’s heart rate without the need for a monitor, and can even see which muscles are most engaged by measuring the power, force and transfer of body weight.

Xbox Fitness will deliver personalised workout program recommendations based on a user’s history and previous performances, and will highlight the most popular sessions amongst other Xbox users

A variety of workouts will be available, ranging from ten-minute workouts to 60-minute sessions, led by some of the world’s biggest fitness personalities including Tony Horton, Shaun T and Tracy Anderson.

The app will be available free to Xbox Live Gold members until December 2014.

FORZA MOTORSPORT 5

TurN 10 studios showcased the first-ever direct-feed footage of Xbox One exclusive Forza Motorsport 5 at the Eurogamer Expo last week.

The new video showcased direct-feed gameplay of Forza Motorsport 5 as powered by the game’s all-new graphics engine. Demonstrating the Bernese Alps circuit, the clip was shown in full 1080p HD resolution and 60 frames per second.

Also demonstrated was the all-new Career mode in Forza 5, which lets players make their path through their racing career.

The new mode is split into eight different leagues, with each covering individual car types, such as vintage, compact and supercars.

Each of these career events will also feature commentary by Top Gear UK hosts Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May.

Also making its return to the Forza franchise is the iconic Silverstone race circuit. The home of British motor racing has been a staple feature of the series since its debut, but will now feature the new post-2010 layout of the track for gamers to speed around in-game.

The road to XBOX ONE. Follow the journey